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#16 Longhorns Defeat #7 Volunteers 97-78 to Win Legends Classic

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Game Recap: Texas got double-digit scoring from four of its five starters to rout #7 Tennessee 97-78 on Saturday night. Also: all four of those starters had 20+ points. Yes, DJ Augustin (23), AJ Abrams (21), Connor Atchley (22), and Justin Mason (21) all topped the 20 point mark as the Longhorns won the first-ever Legends Classic tournament in New Jersey.

With the win, the Longhorns improve to 5-0 on the season and pick up a terrific non-conference win that should look great on the resume in March. After jumping out to an early lead, Texas let Tennessee take a 39-38 lead, but the 'Horns closed the half on a 12-0 run and never looked back. Texas shot a ridiculous 64% from the field, outrebounded Tennessee, and generally controlled this game from start to finish.

The outcome was: Eye-opening. Starting 3-0 against the cupcakes was a given. The blowout over New Mexico State was nice. But tonight's win was something else altogether. Andrew and I concurred that this was as good as we've seen a Texas team play in November-December during the Rick Barnes era.

The Offensive MVP was: DJ Augustin. Chatting with fellow fans in the game thread, I tried to remember the last time we'd looked this cohesive as a team, which of course led me back to the TJ Ford era. No surprise, perhaps, that Texas is looking elite again with DJ Augustin taking a leap forward in his game as a point guard.

The Defensive MVP was: Damion James. Beast. Both he and Wang Chung play bigger than they are, giving Texas more post defense than you'd think they'd have. James is already a wow player, but he's just barely coming into his own. I did not realize last year that his ceiling was going to be so high. It is.

The Freshman Evaluation tonight was: Minimal Factor. Wang Chung is just so active with those long arms, and he's more athletic than I realized. Chappy didn't do much tonight, but wasn't needed. With Tennessee, Rick wanted to play transition basketball, and when he decided to go big, he went with Dexatrim.

Dexter Pittman Watch: 12 minutes, 4 points, 1 rebounds, 2 fouls. No official box score yet, so we'll have to update these later tonight, but Dexy was in there in each half, contributing as only he can. He had an absurd offensive foul. A score around the rim that highlighted his sweet hands. Even some great defense extending the zone. Minute for minute, he's the most entertaining Longhorn since... gosh, I dunno. Sonny Alvarado?

Three Things I Think: (1) We're more like the Pheonix Suns this year than last. Last year, we were the Lakers with Kobe Bryant played by Kevin Durant. This year? DJ Augustin really is playing like Steve Nash. Watching Augustin last season, you wouldn't think there was a "big" leap that could be made from his freshman to sophomore season - he was already so good. And yet, he has. He's doing special things out there right now.

(2) Hello, pressure. Good teams are going to start doing anything and everything they can to get the ball out of DJ Augustin's hands. Full court pressure is one option, but not - in my opinion - as effective as trapping Augustin in the half court would be. That's something Barnes is going to need to start planning for.

(3) Two defensive problems. Last year, Texas got killed with poor interior defense and poor three point defense. We're probably in better position this year to defend the interior than we were a year ago, but we're still a team that's going to have two under-6' guards on the floor 85% of the time. Another season of poor three point defense wouldn't surprise me at all. It's a tough situation, because we're not well suited to play either zone or man to man. Fortunately, we're well suited to run and score.

NEXT GAME: Home vs Texas Southern - Wednesday 11/28, 7:00 p.m.

--PB--